- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Canada (March 4 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143188739
- ISBN-13: 978-0143188735
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.5 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 358 g
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #350,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Traitor's Blade Paperback – Mar 4 2014
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“An all-round brilliant fantasy debut, and one of the best I’ve read in a decade.” - Civilian Reader.blogspot.co.uk
“I loved loved loved Traitor's Blade. I would recommend it to everyone, and I think fencing and sword fighting types will especially get a kick out of it. Seriously, this is one excellent and remarkably entertaining book! Read it.” - The BiblioSanctum
“Termed to be “The Three Musketers meets Game of Thrones”, Traitor’s Blade is definitely the most delightful fun I’ve had in epic fantasy reads and marks the perfect start to a rib-tickling swashbuckling adventure series that would be high up on anyone’s list of 2014 Fantasy books.” - Sachin Dev, Smorgasbord Fantasia
“De Castell has produced a wonderfully inventive, thoroughly entertaining story and a fascinating world in which to set it. And I, for one, am excited to hear how Falcio will proceed in the remaining three volumes of the series!” - nerds-feather.com
“The author served a master class in sword fighting skills like no other author I have read before. I came away from this book believing that I am now an expert swordsman!” - newsignedbooks.com
“Sebastien de Castell is a brilliant story teller. This book reminded me of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie; high praise you may think but once you read this book, you will agree with me. I have no fear in giving this my highest marks.” - newsignedbooks.com
"This is one hell of a good book. So many fantasies concentrate on the darkness in humanity these days. There's something to be said for that, if it's well done. Yet this is a book that reminds you that deep down, we want to have courage and honour - and we admire those who do. Hugely enjoyable throughout. 5 stars - well deserved." - Conn Iggulden, author of The Dangerous Book for Boys
"This debut is a triumph of character, with every protagonist a fascination, especially Falcio, a tormented and ridiculously honorable man. Humor abounds, mostly in the sparkling dialog among our Three Musketeers-esque band of brothers, in this swashbuckling series launch that shows huge potential." - Library Journal, starred review
“Traitor’s Blade never falters, with writing as smooth and decisive as a rapier’s swish through the air and a story as passionate as life itself. I can’t wait to read more about these wonderful characters. Highly recommended!” - Julie E. Czerneda, author of A Turn of Light
“In Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell combines the best of Joe Abercrombie and Alexandre Dumas. He can break your heart and spike your adrenaline with the same sentence. Riveting.” - Violette Malan, author of Path of the Sun and The Storm Witch
“Some books you can't put down. This one won't even let you try; it whirls you along in a wild dance of fights, treachery, and jaw-dropping surprises. If you thought that Alexandre Dumas put his three Musketeers through a lot of trouble, just wait until you see what Mr. de Castell dumps on his three Greatcoats. His fight scenes are amazingly detailed and yet they never lose pace. Sebastien de Castell is a newcomer to the genre, and will be a very popular one if he can continue to produce books of this quality.” - Dave Duncan, author of King of Swords
About the Author
Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, actor, and product strategist. His only defense against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely enjoys variety and that each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way. He lives in Vancouver, where he is Director of Strategic Program Development at Vancouver Film School.
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If you've read any of the promotional blurbs or advance reviews for Traitor's Blade, then you know Sebastien de Castell has successful served up a swashbuckling historical fantasy that's adventurous, thrilling, and often darkly humorous. It's also, however, a story that I found to be very cruel and depressing in a number of places, which unfortunately dampens my enthusiasm a bit. Having said that, the fact that the cruelty affected me so, getting so effectively under my skin, says a lot for Sebastien's storytelling prowess.
In terms of structure, this is book that is heavily dependent upon flashbacks. In fact, for the first half of the novel, I found the flashbacks infinitely more fascinating than the main story, and was actually impatient to do away with current events and get back to the history. Let's be honest, when you're dealing with a group of fallen heroes like the Greatcoats, the mystery behind how and why they've fallen so far is going to consume your imagination. There is, however, a definite point at which the main story catches up, and that is when Falcio is left to stand guard over a young girl, alone against the world, in a week during which blood must run freely. After that, it's very much a running battle to determine which aspect of the tale is the strongest.
My main issue with the present tale is that it felt as if too much of the main story was being kept from us, and I don't like being kept in the dark. I generally prefer a story with a defined quest to be attained or a clear conflict to be resolved, and I struggled with that here. If the early flashbacks and the mystery of the Greatcoats' fall hadn't been so compelling, I'm not sure I would have stuck with the tale. Once again, having said that, the way all the pieces fell into place was highly entertaining, and I completely appreciated just how many of the seemingly disconnected story threads were leading to the same climax. There was a bit of a fate/destiny cheat involved there, in my opinion, but not enough to completely derail the success of the telling.
One thing with which I am not all conflicted in my admiration for the conflict itself. Yes, this is a swashbuckling tale, and the swordplay is exquisite. I often find myself skimming through extended fight scenes, more interested in the dialogue than the dance of swords, but Sebastien absolutely demands that you dance with him. As we find out later in the story, there's a language to the dance of swords, and it really does feel as if part of the telling here is in the fighting. Exceptionally well-choreographed, the duels and battles are something you desperately want to see on the big screen.
As for the characters, they're conflicted themselves, but strong, fascinating, and well-developed. Heroes and villains alike are immediately identifiable, memorable, and entertaining. Falcio is more conflicted than most, and I fully expected his angry sort of self-pity party to become tiresome, but somehow Sebastien sustains it through more than one grand moment of transformation. A tragic hero in every sense of the word, we come to understand that his motives aren't always as grand as he'd have others believe, but they're nothing for which we can possibly fault him. Duchess Patriana, meanwhile, is an absolutely perfect antagonist, falling just shy of cartoon or fairy tale villainy. She's cruel, conniving, and as intelligent as she is imaginative. This is a woman to be honestly feared as well as hated, and she is largely responsible for making the second half of the tale so entertaining.
Like a number of other reads from the past few years, I suspect the best is yet to come for Sebastien de Castell. With the world and the characters established, and the storytelling expectations set, I suspect whatever follows Traitor's Blade will be a better, stronger, less conflicted pleasure.
This book made me laugh and cry, and by the end I almost felt like if I picked up a sword, I could act out some of the fight sequences. This is a book I will read again, and again.
p.s. I <3 Kest!
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Oh, and FUN....can't wait for another book by this author.